MipTV and Mipcom, held each year in Cannes, France, are the largest European events of their kind. Each year thousands of television programming executives flock to these markets pen in hand, busily signing deals in the cavernous Palais De Festivals. Those that aren’t are sipping cocktails with new partners in the surrounding yachts or toasting their fortune on the Croisette; a café-lined stretch of road that runs from the Palais down to the marina. It’s a market where deals are done and for almost all involved in the television industry, it’s an indelible date on the events calendar.
However, attendance for this year’s MipTV exhibition (30 March – 3 April) was down 14 per cent on last year; with the US contingent down by as much as 24%. It’s a sign of the times but Garaude claims the market is not suffering as a result. “All of the top executives were there, there’s no change in the fibre of our show at all. It’s all the same companies and types of exhibitors.”
Coproduction is key to the television industry and in these leaner times, with financing more difficult to come by, it is an even more important element of making programmes. Businesses attending can expect to spend a significant part of their annual budget during their brief stay in Cannes. The 300 Chinese delegates alone declared they had signed deals worth EUR 6.2 million at MipTV in April.
“The return on investment at our show is really very high because people do a lot of transactional deals. The feedback we got from this show was the same,” says Garaude, pointing out that while visitor number may be down 14 per cent, the number of exhibitors was down 10 per cent, and most of this loss is non-essential staff.
"We're not making Mipcom into a gaming show but there are synergies to be developed between gaming professionals and the TV industry."
Still, making the market more affordable for its core audience remains of paramount importance to Garaude. Reducing the inescapable costs such as travel, accommodation, eating out and of course exhibiting is the most direct way of ensuring delegates sign up for the next event.
“Less than a month ago we met with the hotel association chiefs in Cannes, and since then we’ve been working together to look at pricing packages that can be proposed to our clients,” she says. “We’re recommending to people that they don’t have to stay in a four star hotel. There are plenty of smaller hotels and apartments and many of our clients do that now. You can easily find a room for 70 euros, so it’s all a question of the choices you make. For those who stay outside of Cannes we offer a free shuttle service.”
Inside the Palais, Garaude is looking at reducing the costs of building stands by providing exhibitors with modules that require less decoration and related investment. “We are creating packaged stands. We already have a stand package where people can buy a stand where they have furniture and are fully equipped, but we are now looking at different levels of package stands for different needs. We’re launching this at Mipcom,” she says.
The organiser has also frozen its 2008 attendance prices for this October’s Mipcom event, and Garaude maintains there will be no reduction in what the conference agenda has to offer. “We’re not cutting any value to our clients, we’re increasing value to our clients - we had over 100 speakers at MipTV,”
The dent in the number of visitors could soon be redressed by the influx of a new type of delegate; the video gaming exec. Video gaming is an increasingly important element in television production, and this year saw the market recognise and embrace the industry’s importance for the first time.
“We first had seminars on gaming at Mipcom 2008 and we’re developing that for Mipcom 2009. It’s quite an advertising-heavy segment. We’re always proactive in bringing in new segments and helping our clients to do more and more business. We’re not making Mipcom into a gaming show but there are synergies to be developed between gaming professionals and the TV industry, and that’s what we’re focusing on.”
Ultimately Garaude is confident that both shows will continue to succeed because in an industry such as television, where high-level deals involving large sums are signed around the clock, there is no substitute for meeting face to face. “People need to know who they are working with and a lot of it is about that confidence in the person you are doing the deal with. And you need to meet the people to be able to do that.”